John Barrowman says there was ‘nothing sexual’ about on-set nudity: ‘It didn’t bother me if anyone saw me naked’

Patrick Kelleher July 18, 2021
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John Barrowman

John Barrowman attends the TRIC Awards 2020 in London. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

John Barrowman has insisted that there was “nothing sexual” about his nudity on the Doctor Who and Torchwood sets, claiming he was simply trying to maintain a “jokey atmosphere”.

Barrowman found himself at the centre of a media storm earlier this year after actor Noel Clarke was publicly accused of sexual misconduct by 20 women (claims he denies).

In the course of its investigation, The Guardian uncovered a video from 2015 in which Clarke said John Barrowman would “take his d**k out every five seconds” on the set of Doctor Who.

In the video, Clarke asked his co-star Camille Coduri whether she remembered the time Barrowman “put it on your shoulder in the makeup truck”, to which she responded: “Yes, I do.”

Following the emergence of the video, a planned Torchwood audio production featuring Barrowman and David Tennant was scrapped and rumours swirled that he was being cut from the judging panel of Dancing on Ice.

More than two months on, Barrowman has broken his silence on the controversy in an interview with the Daily Mail‘s Weekend magazine.

The actor said he wanted to “set the record straight”, adding that his interview would mark the first and the last time he would address the controversy.

John Barrowman said he was trying to ‘defuse potential awkwardness’ on set

“As Captain Jack Harkness I was the star of Torchwood, so I felt it was down to me to lead the company and keep them entertained,” John Barrowman said.

“When I was doing a nude scene or a love scene it was clear in the script I’d be naked and everyone would have known about that at least 48 hours in advance.

“So I’d be waiting in my trailer wearing just a robe with a sock over my ‘parts’. Then, if I were standing waiting to film a scene where I needed to be nude and someone came into view, I’d make a joke to put them and myself at ease.

“My actions were simply designed to defuse any potential awkwardness among the cast and crew.”

John Barrowman continued: “I’ve never been someone who’s embarrassed about his body so it didn’t bother me if anyone saw me naked.

“The motivation for what I’d call my ‘tomfoolery’ was to maintain a jokey atmosphere. There was absolutely nothing sexual about my actions and nor have I ever been accused of that.”

The actor went on to suggest that his actions would never have been seen as inappropriate if they had occurred in the changing rooms after a rugby match.

However, he also noted that such actions would not be seen as appropriate in an accountant’s office or a supermarket.

He also pointed out that theatre actors would often change their clothes “in the wings” between scenes.

“That’s just how it is and no one gives it a second thought. But I accept that my behaviour at the time could have caused offence.”

John Barrowman was told to ‘grow up’ by producer

Elsewhere in the interview, Barrowman admitted he was reprimanded for his on-set behaviour by Julie Gardner, an executive producer on Doctor Who.

He said his “antics” had come to her attention, and she took him aside to tell him to “grow up”. Barrowman said his behaviour changed “overnight” following that meeting.

“I’d still be full of jokes and fun, but no more naked pranks,” Barrowman said.

“I can see now my actions were pretty juvenile but this was a different time and it’s something I would not do today.”

Barrowman went on to say he is a supporter of the MeToo movement, explaining that nobody “should ever feel that in order to succeed in their career they can be coerced into doing something sexual against their will”.

However, he added: “My problem with cancel culture, on the other hand, is that it can take the form of intolerance and prejudice. It’s a culture with no shades of grey. There’s no leeway for forgiveness or room for recognising any change in someone’s behaviour.”

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